A Million Little Things

2019-05-28 08:46
 
Christina Ochoa in 'A Million Little Things.'

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

A suicide shakes up a group of friends who realise that they shouldn’t take their own lives for granted. Each of them takes steps to live a fuller life. An ensemble cast delivers deeply emotional performances.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

To say that A Million Little Things is the new This is Us is a bold claim and not one that can be made so flippantly but this show is such a heartfelt look at a family built on friendship that it certainly does have a familiar feel.

The story revolves around a group of friends who have to deal with the rock and heart of their little family, John Dixon, taking his life. Season one has a lot of mystery about why John committed suicide that none of them saw the signs of. He didn’t leave a note, and he seemed happy, and yet he stepped off the balcony of his office building one sunny afternoon. They question how well they really know each other and how much they’ve been there for each other lately.

If John’s suicide is the earthquake that they’re dealing with, it also sets off a series of aftershocks that each character and the group has to deal with.

The show has been lauded for portraying depression, especially in men and people of colour, two of the demographics most unlikely to talk about, acknowledge or seek help for their mental health. As Rome is about to take a million pills to end his own life, he gets the call that John has committed suicide and spits them out. This sets him on a path of admitting his depression to his friends and seeking help. His arc takes an honest look at depression, how it affects the people closest to you, and how the older generation feels about medicating for mental health.

But this isn’t the only thing that this group of friends is dealing with. The thing that makes A Million Little Things great is that it’s so relatable on many levels. Each character is going through several things that everyone watching this will find something that relates to them in one or even more characters.

Katherine is one of my favourite characters in this show. She sort of exists on the fringe of the group instead of immersed in it like everyone else. The only person she had a real connection with and made sure she was included was John. They were kindred workaholic spirits and connected over working for their families. Katherine is the breadwinner in her family and a lawyer who wants to climb the corporate ladder but also misses being with her family and has bucket loads of mom guilt because of her job. I think a lot of working moms will identify with her and feel for her.

Katherine and Rome are but the tip of the emotional iceberg. There’s Gary and Maggie who are cancer survivors, Eddie and Delilah who are living with the repercussions of their affair and Rome’s wife Regina who is trying to start a new restaurant while dealing with her husband’s depression and her own issues with her mother and uncle.

While this show won’t make you cry every week the way This is Us makes us do, the mystery behind John’s unexpected suicide is compelling. The characters are well built, and you very quickly become invested in their lives. The story is told both in real time and in flashbacks for crucial moments in time, which makes you care a lot more about each of the characters and their relationships with each other. Sometimes the flashbacks give more clarity to the present and sometimes they just add more mystery. It’s a story about the families we build for ourselves and how strong and fragile they can be. And how life and the choices we make are made up of a million little things.

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